Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai. Whether we are, or we aren't is a matter of conjecture. However, one thing is for certain, when it comes to consumption habits, Indians and Chinese are very different. Like chalk and cheese.
Take cars, for example. The price-sensitivity of the Indian market (and of consumers in general) is all too well known. But what drives a Chinese car buyer is not price, but status. Yes. Chinese are great show-offs. And what better way to flash one's wealth than to have a brand new BMW or a Merc parked in the garage?
According to research major TNS' annual Brand Health & Needs Segmentation study conducted in China this year, car brand BMW ranks highest in terms of attractiveness, followed by Honda, which is perceived to be a brand for those seeking "adventure, fun or attracting attention".
Mercedes scores highest in terms of recall among buyers, while premium brands such as Buick from General Motors are very attractive among non-users.
The study mapped 34 major brands across Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shenzhen, and what emerged was that lesser-known brands do not quite click with new car buyers in China.
On the other hand, India has six need segments driving the automotive market, which is potency (at 20.4 per cent), followed by utility (18.9 per cent), prestige (18.1 per cent), adventure (17.6 per cent), status (16.8 per cent) and liberation (8.2 per cent).
"This is a hierarchical clustering of motivation, which is for the overall market," says Neeraj Bhatia, general manager, automotive, TNS India.
Some 2,500 people across 16 cities were interviewed in October and November last year using the "projective technique", which attempts to gauge hidden motives based on a set of eight photographs of people. Thirty-six car models and 12 car manufacturers were also included in the study.
"One of the key findings of the study was that prestige and status needs exist across vehicle segments, and not just among buyers of high-end vehicles, as is the general belief," says Bhatia.
The study also mapped a car brand's persona against the various need clusters, and what emerged was interesting. "For instance, Hyundai shows a better fit with adventure and potency owing to its expressive personality. Maruti, on the other hand, is viewed as being more protective, which is why a greater fit with utility and status," says Bhatia.
Honda and Toyota, in comparison, show a greater fit with potency and adventure respectively. "That is because Honda's positioning is closer to the individual-oriented zone of self-assertion, reflected in one of its key motives of purchase, which is to be powerful. Toyota, on the other hand, falls more on the expressive and affiliative side with motives such as "feel young" and "for adventure and fun" driving purchase," adds Bhatia.
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